Morning Five: 10.11.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 11th, 2013


  1. In a week full of trash talk, hype machines and other nonsense, how about this for a heartwarming story of substance?‘s Andy Katz revealed the story of Robert Kirby, a 53-year assistant coach at Memphis who recently donated one of his kidneys to his sister, Virginia Kirk, as she gradually slid toward renal failure. It was similar to the conditions that took their mother’s life some 17 years ago, but she wouldn’t allow any of her 13 children to become a donor. Kirby wasn’t about to allow that to happen to his older sister this time around, so after become approved as a match, he underwent the procedure to remove the kidney on Tuesday and was went back home yesterday. He’ll be back on the sidelines at Memphis very soon, perhaps a few ounces lighter but no worse for the wear. Major props are due for the longtime assistant still looking for his first head coaching job, but if his selflessness in this situation is any indication of his integrity and loyalty, we hope some enterprising school in need of a head coach next April gives him a good look.
  2. While we’re on the subjects of perseverance and selflessness, America’s favorite bench-warmer in last year’s Final Four is well ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation. Kevin Ware, the Louisville guard who broke his leg so horrifically in last year’s Elite Eight contest against Duke, is, according to his head coach, going to be in uniform for the Cardinals’ first regular season game against College of Charleston on November 9. Rick Pitino stopped short of saying that Ware would play in that game, but considering that he’s already been practicing and still has several weeks left to prepare for his return, we’d have to believe that there’s a reasonably good chance that he’ll be play in that game. And while all anybody really wants is for Ware to find his fortitude so that he can contribute again, the fact is that Louisville is a better team when he can bring his energy, speed and defensive intensity off the bench.
  3. For years we’ve derided the fact that what we still call “Midnight Madness” really doesn’t have much in the way of midnight associated with it anymore. For those of you who may not remember how it was named in the first place, it had to do with the NCAA’s mandated start of practice, which for many years was at the stroke of midnight on October 15. In later years the NCAA moved the start date to the weekend closest to October 15, and of course now teams can have it in late September. All this maneuvering has taken some of the fun out of it, so we’re always looking for the new and creative ways that schools choose to celebrate the new season. Cincinnati is one school trying something different. The Bearcats will have their “Midday Madness” next Friday, October 17, at Noon in downtown’s Fountain Square. The event, featuring some light scrimmaging and fan-friendly competitions, will be open to the public and will provide a nice fall afternoon respite for the office drones working nearby. Sure, it’s a little hokey, but it is a creative way to reach fans in a way that UC otherwise wouldn’t. We like it, and wish more schools would follow their lead in coming up with interesting ideas.
  4. Over the last five seasons, Steve Fisher’s San Diego State program has averaged a total of 27 wins per year as he has built the program into one of the very best in the west. He’s done so on the backs of stars such as Kawhi Leonard, Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and a host of others, but none of those players were exceptionally rated prospects when they arrived on campus. That may be changing, with news on Thursday that top-20 recruit Malik Pope (Elk Grove, CA) has committed to SDSU. Kansas and Gonzaga were also in the mix for Pope, but the 6’9″ wing (you read that correctly) was impressed with how Fisher’s program didn’t back off of him when he broke his leg twice in the last eight months (the injuries will cost him his senior year). San Diego State’s class is already among the best in program history, and if the Aztecs lock down their final target, Zylan Cheatham, it would be safe to call this group a top 25 class that would benefit the school for years to come.
  5. The last time Kansas did not win at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title was in 2003-04, Bill Self’s first season in Lawrence. The Jayhawks finished two games behind a Tony Allen and John Lucas III-led Final Four Oklahoma State team. Ten years later, Big 12 coaches are not about to make the mistake of leaving KU off the preseason top line in the league standings, even if the roster features zero returning starters. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, returns five starters to a young squad led by NPOY candidate Marcus Smart. So what did the coaches do? They split the difference. Kansas and Oklahoma State received the same number of votes (77 total, five first place votes each), ensuring that proper respect was given to both the team with the most returning talent and the team with the most incoming talent. It will be a mighty fun race in the Big 12 this season. Oh, and the Rick Barnes dead man walking watch? Eighth.
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Morning Five: 07.25.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 25th, 2013


  1. Chalk this one up to history repeating itself. When Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford was still a sharpshooting little guard at Kentucky in the early 1990s, his mentor and head coach Rick Pitino sat his superstar forward Jamal Mashburn down before his junior season and told the smooth forward that he had no choice but to declare he was entering the NBA Draft the following summer (remember, these were the days when top players tended to stay in school quite a bit longer than they do now). It was an unusual move at the time, but it helped both Mashburn and the rest of Ford’s team focus on the matter at hand, which was to remove that recurring question from the press conferences and get the Wildcats back to the Final Four in 1993. Ford may have suggested a similar strategy with his current superstar point guard, Marcus Smart, as the consensus high-lottery pick announced on Wednesday that his upcoming sophomore season will be his last in Stillwater. He’s one of only two collegians at the Team USA Mini-Camp this week, and‘s Andy Glockner caught up with him after practice to get a better understanding of his thinking on that topic and several others.
  2. The AP reported on Wednesday that legendary former UNLV head coach Jerry Tarkanian was released from a San Diego hospital after 11 days there dealing with clogged arteries and installing a pacemaker. The national title-winning head coach, now 82 years old, has suffered failing health in recent years but will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame later this fall. Tark the Shark is without question one of the most colorful and controversial figures in the history of the game, but there’s no denying that his program-building ability as well as his basketball contributions (“amoeba defense,” anyone?) far outweigh his irascible, contrarian nature. We wish Tarkanian all the best with his ongoing health battles, but with all the rumblings in college sports circles about Division 4, the O’Bannon case and the possible end of the NCAA as we know it, how much glee would the longtime rabble-rouser get out of seeing the hypocrisy of the NCAA finally brought to bear in a nuclear payload?
  3. Kansas freshman Brannen Greene is going to spend most of next season looking for a way to get people to remember his name. With classmate Andrew Wiggins soaking up all of the local, national and international attention focused on the 2013-14 Jayhawks, Greene will need to get creative to garner some of that oxygen in the room. He’s off to a decent start, as reported on Wednesday that Greene was cited last Wednesday morning for leaving the scene of an accident after a Chevy Trailblazer he was driving struck a parked Mercury Grand Marquis in a driveway. Notwithstanding the fact that it seems that no major college basketball player drives his own vehicle anymore (Greene was driving a car owned by an unnamed 25-year old Lawrence man), it begs the question as to why the 18-year old fled the scene in the first place. KU says that it will handle his punishment internally, which may or may not invoke the PJ Hairston rule. He will present in a Lawrence court on this charge in mid-August.
  4. Speaking of UNC, Hairston and the myriad academic/athletic issues that continue to become exhumed in the never-ending investigation done by Dan Kane at the Raleigh News & Observer, Mike DeCourcy addresses the matter in this week’s Starting Five column. We’ve been on record throughout this saga that UNC has done its very best to uncover the very least while taking accountability for the bare minimum… despite an increasingly clear and sinister connection between its athletic department and certain academic courses dating back two decades. With every new unveiling of information that makes the university look even worse, the school seems to further bury its head in the sand in hopes that nothing will stick. The mantra “nothing to see here” comes to mind, and DeCourcy comes to the same conclusion, but can we put the cards on the table here once and for all? UNC will do anything to protect the legacy of Dean Smith, period.
  5. Some people seemingly can’t catch a break, and while it’s difficult to make such a statement about someone who has gotten a free education at Stanford, we have to feel like Andy Brown is one of those unfortunate ones — at least on the athletic side of the equation. Johnny Dawkins reported on Wednesday that Brown, who has already suffered three ACL tears in his left knee while on The Farm, tore the ACL in his right knee on Tuesday during a workout, effectively ending his basketball career as a member of the Cardinal. Because of the injuries, he only managed to see action in a total of 54 games over the last three years, with 33 of those coming in his only full season in 2012-13. Brown will finish up his master’s degree in communications this year, which means that even though his athletic career didn’t turn out as well as he (or anyone) would have hoped, he’ll still end up with over a quarter-million dollars worth of academic sheepskin to his name. Not terrible.
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Morning Five: 10.04.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2012

  1. As everyone knows by now, the ACC is expanding from a 12-team basketball league to a 15-team behemoth. This move means that a semi-logical scheduling approach that included 18 conference games necessitates a substantial reconsideration. After toying with the idea of a nine-game football conference season and an even bigger basketball conference season, the league has settled on eight games in football and 18 games in basketball — so in an aggregate sense, no change. The key hoops difference is that each school will have two permanent partners that it plays home-and-home games with every season. The remaining 14 games will consist of two other rotating home-and-homes and single games against 10 other schools (five home and five away). This system ensures some degree of competitive balance in that every school will see every other league school at least once per season. New members Syracuse and Pittsburgh will play each other annually (SU will play former Big East mate Boston College every year too), while Notre Dame will be paired with its natural rival BC along with Georgia Tech (an odd duo).
  2. Sticking with the ACC, the good news is that Roy Williams is recovering nicely from a surgical procedure on his right kidney a couple of weeks ago — good enough to have flown to Chicago on Tuesday to visit the home of Class of 2013 stud, Jabari Parker. The not-as-good news is that Williams on Wednesday underwent a second procedure — this time on his left kidney — to determine whether a second tumor is also a non-cancerous mass like the first. If Williams receives more good news shortly, he’ll be more than ready to begin his tenth season at the helm of his alma mater a little over a week from now. If he’s not as lucky this time around, he’ll likely need another procedure to remove the affected tissue which could produce a minor setback for the gung-ho coach as he enters the official start of practice. When he’ll be back at 100% is still in question, but whether the 62-year old coach is walking into a frustrating season filled with pointed questions about his team’s academic prowess over the last decade is something that seems to be lurking on the horizon.
  3. One now-retired coach who knows a little something about receiving pointed questions and dealing with health scares is former Connecticut head man, Jim Calhoun. This news felt a lot like “no, but thanks for asking…”, but Connecticut says it has no plans to name its planned basketball training center after Calhoun, even though the program was essentially as relevant as Fairfield College before he arrived there nearly three decades ago. Athletic Director Ward Manuel put a punctuated end to some rumors that had spread this week, stating that the naming of the building had consistently been contemplated as a money-raising opportunity. One of Calhoun’s emeritus roles for the upcoming year will be to shore up additional funding for the facility, which is about $10 million short of where it needs to be to break ground on the project. Frankly, even though such a gesture would cause Geno Auriemma to lose his farkin’ mind (no, seriously, he would), Gampel Pavilion should probably eventually be re-named for the man who legitimized UConn basketball. Maybe they can compromise and call it Geno-Calhoun Pavilion.
  4. The Billy Gillispie era has come and gone at Texas Tech, yet with only days left before official practice begins, the school has yet to decide on a full-time interim head coach (Chris Walker has been the daily operations interim head coach since Gillispie resigned). According to Andy Katz, the school is expected to make a decision in a matter of days, but if athletic director Kirby Hocutt knows what he’s planning to do, he’s keeping it close to the vest. Katz says that the only reasonable choice for a program that has gone through so much turmoil is to promote Walker and spend the year evaluating him on stabilizing the program and fielding a team that competes hard every night. If his performance is based on what is likely to become a scarcity of wins, well, he’s a dead man walking after this season. Is Bob Knight still taking calls?
  5. Commitment days are fun no matter the players announcing, but this evening’s ESPNU special focusing on the Harrison twins (Aaron and Andrew) is filled with all kinds of drama. First, we’ve got the fact that the brothers are of course twins — a package deal of top five players the likes of which we may have never seen before (CollegeHoopedia has a comprehensive list of NCAA twins here). Next, we have a pairing of one school’s shoe company power and influence (Under Armour) versus, um, another school’s shoe company power and influence (Nike). Gary Parrish breaks down that particular dichotomy here. Then we have the issue of the Calipari effect — which, depending on the side of the fence you’re on — represents either shady backdoor dealings, or unbelievable marketing and player development. The national championship coach just doesn’t lose out on many recruits he targets anymore. Finally, we have a report of an 11th-hour lunch meeting between Mark Turgeon and the twins’ father, which could suggest that the deal was closed or that Maryland was making a last-ditch effort. The one thing we can be sure of at this writing is this — if Kentucky wins, Maryland fans will accuse Calipari of cheating to get their services (see: Davis, Anthony); if Maryland wins, Kentucky fans will cite the shady Under Armour influence to get their services (see: Muhammad, Shabazz). It’s going to be an interesting evening.
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Breaking: K-Ville Full of Deadly Bacteria

Posted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2009

We really shouldn’t laugh at this poor girl’s misfortune, but…  hey, she made her own bed by choosing to edumacate at Duke.  (and besides, she’ll be ok…).  From CNNSI:

A Duke University freshman has been diagnosed with meningitis after camping outside for a chance to see the men’s basketball game against North Carolina.  Officials said Wednesday the infection was caught early, and the student is expected to fully recover. Meningococcal meningitis, also known as bacterial meningitis, can be fatal if not treated early.

Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor

Actually we don’t feel that bad because ESPN is going to do its very best to make us feel as if we’ve had our own bout with meningococcal meningitis after repeatedly and arduously violating us with the Duke-Carolina hyperbole tonight.  So if we have to take it, so should she. 

Vector Lurking

Vector Lurking

They say that this bacteria is often transmitted by kissing – let’s just hope for Miss Undergrad’s sake, he wasn’t the vector.

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ATB: Gettin’ Chismed

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2008


Big East/SEC Invitational. This is so ridiculous.  Tonight was the opening night of yet another conference challenge series invitational that theoretically is a great idea, but is executed all wrong by the powers-that-be.  Why don’t the Pac-10, Big 12, SEC and Big East realize that interest will be much greater in these things if they’re made into week-long EVENTS, similar to the way the ACC and Big 10 do it, and they let ESPN carry all the games throughout the week.  The Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series is bad enough, considering nobody even knows about it; but this Big East/SEC thing is an abomination.  It only involves four teams from each conference, and somehow a team like South Florida gets invited.  South Florida… most people don’t even realize that USF is IN the Big East or even carries a basketball program!  Furthermore, they’ve decided to have doubleheaders in semi-neutral venues, which only serves to confuse people and create situations where half the stands are empty, even though two top 25 teams are playing (see: UT-Marquette tonight in Nashville).  How cool would it be to have three legitimate made-for-tv challenges between all the power conferences in the first three weeks of December, leading into Bowl Week?  Make this happen.  FYI – the much-maligned SEC went 2-0 tonight, but who wouldn’t beat South Florida?

  • Tennessee 80, Marquette 62. The score was Marquette by 2 with just over ten minutes remaining.  Then Tennessee and, more precisely, Mr. Headband as Yarmulke Wayne Chism, took over the game.  The Vols scored on eleven of their next twelve possessions, and Chism was involved in seven of them.  Game pretty much over.  Chism, incidentally, set a new career-high with 26 pts and 11 rebounds, and it was clear that in the second half he was feeling it.  The Vols didn’t get a huge amount of production from anyone else, though, (Tyler Smith had 14/3; Bobby Maze 10/6 assts) but their long arms and athletic defense did force Marquette into its worst shooting performance of the season (38%).  Wesley Matthews continued to show his value, as he dropped 30 (15 from the line) on a myriad of drives and scoop shots in the lane.  Matthews is #2 in the nation in FT attempts (97), behind only Blake Griffin, which shows just how frequently he gets into the paint and absorbs contact.
  • Vanderbilt 71, South Florida 52. We’re not going to spend too much time on this turd of game, but one interesting aspect of it was that the much-ballyhooed Mike Mercer (transfer from Georgia) and Gus Gilchrist (transfer from Maryland, sorta) made their tv debuts.  Mercer had 10/3 assts, while Gilchrist added 12/8 off the bench.  Anyone expecting these two players to turn USF into a Big East contender should have their heads examined.  AJ Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal had twenty each for the Commodores.
This Sweaty Vol Fan Was Outworking Wayne Chism Tonight

This Sweaty Vol Fan Was Outworking Wayne Chism Tonight

It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp.

  • LMU’s Bill Bayno is taking a leave of absence due to a “serious medical condition” related to coaching-related stress.  Maybe the 0-10 record with a trip scheduled to Pauley on Wednesday had something to do with it.
  • Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury was hospitalized yesterday with migraines and flu-like symptoms, although further tests were being done.
  • Mike Davis lost half of his team today, as former Hoosier Armon Bassett decided to transfer (whereabouts unknown), and three other players were found academically ineligible for the spring semester.   UAB is now down to six scholarship players.
  • RIP, Pete Newell.

Scores that Have Us Wishing For Saturday.

  • Clemson 76, North Florida 36. In the past seven years, Clemson has had starts of 10-0, 17-0, 11-0, 9-0, and now in 2008-09, 11-0 again.  In those other four unbeaten starts, the final result was two NITs, one NCAA first round loss, and one losing record.  Woo.  Hoo.
  • Texas 88, Texas Southern 72. We’ve said it before, but if Dexter Pittman (19/5) gets going, Texas is a whole different animal.  One troubling aspect of tonight’s game is they allowed 0-9 TSU to shoot 58% against them – Rick Barnes cannot be happy about that.

On Tap Wednesday (all times EST). Nothing like a Duke v. UNC-Asheville game (w/o Kenny George) to keep us warm at night.  We’re actually very intrigued with how Syracuse responds 48 hrs after losing at home, whether Pitt will dominate a good Siena team, and if St. Mary’s can go into Mac Court and beat a young Oregon team.

  • NC State (-9.5) v. East Carolina – 7pm
  • Syracuse (-25) v. Canisius (ESPNU) – 7pm
  • Duke v. UNC-Asheville (ESPN2) – 7:30pm
  • LSU v. Nicholls St. (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Memphis (-22) v. Arkansas-Little Rock – 8pm
  • Arkansas (-6.5) v. Austin Peay (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Ohio St. v. Jacksonville (ESPNU) – 9pm
  • Pittsburgh (-18.5) v. Siena (ESPN2) – 9:30pm
  • St. Mary’s (-2.5) @ Oregon – 10pm
  • UNLV (-10) v. Santa Clara – 10:30pm
  • UCLA (-30.5) v. Loyola Marymount – 11pm
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